By Luke Griffin
Everyone in Concordia has had the opportunity to watch a house be torn down to make way for new houses, duplexes, and “skinnies,” for better and/or for worse. This is the continued chronicle of my personal experience.
The spaceship has landed
The finishing touches are now being put up or in. The outside, with the exception of the very limited yard area, is complete. Blinding white and a morose sleet grey were the colors chosen, and the workers who painted it repeatedly joked about the bland choice.
To highlight its faux-modern looks, gaudy outdoor lighting floods down from the roof line making the structure seem a cubist alien spaceship that landed mistakenly far from its square launch site.
One of the developers repeatedly leaves most of the lights on in the drapeless windows, apparently to act as a beacon for would-be buyers. Driving in his slick Land Rover, he often drives by at odd hours to revel in the cheesy magnificence of his bread box, undoubtedly giddy about future profit. And as I come down my street, any hint of my own home is blocked by these well-lit sheer cliff walls leaving my end of the street cut off from the rest of the neighborhood. It’s a stark reminder of the “new” Portland and its decidedly un-Portland values.
Excessive noise, sidewalk
Since the neighbors complained to the City about excessive off-hour construction noise two months ago, the noise issues continue. Power saws running after 8 p.m. split the evening silence, and cement trucks chug out their loads at 7 a.m. many mornings of the week, fostering more negative resentment for the project. The only silver lining has been that after a year of construction there is finally a sidewalk – great for the kids and less abled-bodied neighbors who have been forced onto the street all this time.
By early June, this two-headed monster will be on the market. The neighbors wonder who will move in. It certainly will not be working-class families, artists or displaced former residents. Each unit, with fake fireplaces and cement pad backyards, will sell for a half million dollars, excluding many buyers. Those who have the cash and appreciate this plastic grandeur of new Portland will likely not value green space, gardening, outdoor hanging out, or community interaction. They will be impressed by the chunky angles, the glaring sharpness, and the blinding lights.
Of course, if they are nice, the neighborhood will embrace them with little to no resentment, the long-time residents keeping the communal spirit alive.
As for the developers, they will have profited greatly on our neighborhood and given back almost nothing save for a two-year headache and an eyesore which will arrogantly stand forever as a gross representation of the selling out of our neighborhood, our city, our values and our quickly-dying culture that put the good of the community before personal profit.
This native N.E. Portlander now has a permanent reminder of his lost hometown right next door. Sadly, with thoughtful urban planning and reflected city regulations, it wouldn’t be this way.
Concerned? Here’s what to do
Contact Portland City Council, get involved with the neighborhood association, start a petition. The question is not if we change but how we change.
Luke Griffin is a native of Northeast Portland. A committed social and environmental activist, he has written for numerous publications, dedicated time fighting for civil rights in housing, served on the CNA board, and utilized world-bridging communication and management skills for the positive betterment of society. He is currently a freelance writer and is completing his Masters of Teaching at Concordia University. Reach Luke by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.